Sacrament is defined as: “a Christian rite that is believed to have been ordained by Christ and that is held to be a means of divine grace or to be a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality” (Merriam-Webster). Baptism is one of the Sacraments of Christianity that is recognized. It affirms that guilt will be removed as well as the effects of Original Sin. Those baptized will be united with the Church, which symbolizes the body of Christ here on earth. In Hebrew or Greek forms, baptism means to immerse in water. This sacrament is often thought of as the “door by which the believer enters the church and has the right to partake in the rest of the Sacraments” (Sacrament of Baptism). There are differences between the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant denominations of Christianity about baptism. The history of this sacrament is shown throughout time, but early history traces it back to the Jews.
Baptism was commonly performed by the Jews “as a traditional act of purification and initiation long before the coming of the Messiah” (Blank). There are three categories of Baptism. There is the Sacramental Baptism, Baptism of Blood, and Baptism of Desire. “God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacrament” (CCC 1257). The sacrament of Baptism is performed by another, “even a non-baptized person, with the required intention, can baptize” (CCC 1256). The Baptism of Blood is where “those who suffer death for the sake of faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ” (CCC 1258). The Baptism of Desire is much like the Baptism of Blood, but “brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament” (CCC 1258). The subject of Baptism is first described in the New Testament through John the Baptist. John was a relative of Christ, though it is not specified how so. John practiced baptism by fully immersing those into the Jordan River. The concept of John’s baptism was one of repentance, and to forgive sins. Although Jesus was without sin he was baptized by John. It is said about this that: … Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased (Matthew 3:13-16). Baptism is looked at as the entrance into the Church and “as soon as definite sacramental ideas were connected with the rite … it spread throughout the Christian organizations” (Jackson pg. 440). The stories in Acts 8 and 19 in the Bible describe baptism in some different circumstances. It describes actual hand laying. The significance of the hand laying was that: Baptism must not only signify entrance into the Christian fellowship and communion with Jesus, the forgiveness of sins and liberation from the power of evil, but also confer the gift of the Holy Spirit, imparted, indeed, by Baptism itself, but more surely and definitely by the imposition of hands (Jackson pg. 441). There is also “no evidence that any New Testament baptism included an anointing” (Turner). Baptism can be performed in many different ways though, water can be sprinkled on one’s head, one can be fully submersed into the water, and water can be poured onto.
There are seven recognized sacraments in the Orthodox Church. “The sacraments in the Orthodox Church are officially called the “holy mysteries” (Hopko). The sacraments of the Orthodox Church include: Baptism, Chrismation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, marriage, Holy orders, and Holy Unction. The first sacrament is baptism. This is the Christian rite of...
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